With the 32nd pick, the New Orleans Saints select…
Carl Lawson — Auburn, defensive end
Remember how I said we have really good information at this point in the draft process? Well, for this one pick alone, that sort of falls apart. It’s really hard to gauge who will be here at 32. Some scouts believe Taco Charlton will still be around. Others say Charles Harris. If either of those are here, the Saints will take them over Lawson. I suspect neither of them will.
No matter. Carl Lawson is a great DE prospect in his own right. Haason Reddick will improve the pass-rush, but Lawson will step in an compete right away for the starting base DE job. And unless Hau’oli Kikaha is fully recovered from his third ACL tear, I expect Lawson would win the battle.
Lawson didn’t enter the draft process as a highly rated prospect. But just like Haason Reddick, he’s emerged as a standout defender. Injuries hindered his college career, which led to him falling under the radar. But Lawson’s got the right tools to dominate in the league. He’s a rare combination of speed and power and has the agility to bend around the edge as a pass-rusher. He’s still a bit undersized for a DE, but with Haason Reddick the Saints would be poised to play in more LB-heavy sets, alleviating some of the concert with Lawson’s abilities in the run game.
This pick could also go to a cornerback, depending on how the board falls. And if no prospect at either CB or DE is available, a player like Jarrad Davis could sneak in here. After grabbing Reddick at 11, that pick might not make much sense. But if they fail to land Reddick, get familiar with Davis’s name.
Finally, if a single quarterback falls to this spot, I’m almost positive the Saints will trade back. The 32nd pick is wildly better for a QB prospect than even the 33rd, as all first-round picks come with a fifth-year option. That would be a great opportunity for the Saints to land some mid-round picks.